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Poster: vapors Date: Dec 15, 2010 12:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The First Live Dark Star?

I recently began a journey through 1968, with special attention to the development of Dark Star. The question you ask has been on my mind also, yet as no recorded evidence is available I have been content to preview what is available here on archive.
This link, which you guys all know I am sure, has been a good companion reader:

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Dec 15, 2010 9:53pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: The First Live Dark Star?

I'm pretty sure the first live Dark Star was sometime in late '67...almost certainly after the November Shrine shows. (They didn't play it at those shows, and they only recorded it in November, while they were staying in LA.)
So 12/13/67, wherever that date came from, is as likely a date as any for the 'first' time.
It would almost certainly be a short, brisk version, possibly even briefer & closer to the single than the early '68 incarnations. It's possible that, since Dark Star was so short, they simply didn't play it live til they had more songs to add to it... (Did you ever hear, for instance, a standalone Born Cross-eyed?)

My feeling is the China Cat>Eleven medley was added in January '68, but December '67 is also possible. (There are hardly any medleys in '67, and all of a sudden nonstop medleys in '68.)
The early China Cat story is even more intriguing; the Eleven was originally a continuation of the same song, and only after March '68 did they get split up - then China Cat disappeared for a year while the Eleven prospered!

I do believe in that 9/3/67 Dancing, you get a taste of what those Rio Nido embryonic Dark Star rehearsals sounded like.
A couple quotes from my post:

"It's hard to imagine what it might have sounded like in its initial incarnation, born out of some nebulous September '67 jam - a peaceful moment among the distorted, rough & tumble jams of the 9/3/67 show. But in Dancing in the Street, Garcia's solo is in the lyrical Dark Star mode (sometimes almost quoting the melody), prefiguring the Stars to be. There's a huge advance since the last Dancing we have from 3/18/67 - the band has slowed the song down and made room for more interaction in the jam, and Garcia is using much more space in his notes."

"It's been said that the Dead intended Dark Star from the first to have an open-ended jam between verses, but this is in hindsight. When they took it on the road in early '68, it was still extremely close to the studio version - Garcia had a guitar solo worked out, but it was a 'composed' solo that was pretty much the same from night to night... Dark Star still closely follows the format of the studio version - fast & peppy & filled with Pigpen's repeated organ riff. [etc...]"